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Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Update for April 24, 2010: Couldn't get any takers for last Thursday night but Jason popped by to help me a bit on Saturday, after we went to Ft Worth to look at this heap of crap he wanted to weigh and possibly buy... [insert 3 hour distraction]

    Mazda 323 GTX, AWD turbo rally car built in 1989. 1.6 Mazda motor with a turbo, intercooler, cockpit selectable center diff, tiny little thing. Seems GREAT on paper and it looked classed very well for SCCA Solo, so he wanted to see what it weighed. We heard 2600 but its so small (95" wheelbase, 63" outer track) so how could that be? We had bench raced it to 2400 pounds in our minds... but reality was worse than we had feared. 2703 pounds for this little PoS?! Uhh... this is NOT the car to oust the Civics in ST. Back to the shop we went.

    So that burned up most of Saturday morning. We got back and started cutting up the trunk floor. I found some 2" x 2" scrap tubing on the steel rack that looked perfect for the rear diff mount. We just needed to get the old structure out of the way first. Jason started with the plasma cutter and I was on "fire duty", dousing the flames caused by the burning undercoating. That crap is super flammable! I can see why racers go to such lengths to get it off the bottom of the old street car chassis...

    Left: The stock trunk floor. Right: Time to cut all that up!

    Left: Stock rear diff mount structure coming out. Right: Its gone

    He had to bail after a bit of this nasty, smelly work so I kept at it, stopping to put out the flames every few seconds. 3 dirty, smoky, flaming hours later I managed to cut this out:

    Left: What was removed. Right: Rear E30 trailing arm beefed up

    Got the rear trailing arms beefed up (see above), and we'll be painting those Thursday night, and pressing in the E36 rear hubs and old bearings soon. The remnants of the sunroof structure are all gone now, too. The handful spot welds came out easily (Thanks Sean!) and the rest of it just fell out. Not much weight was left, just looked ugly. Now its pretty and clean in the roof. Dave has the sunroof panel and is doing his surgery now.

    We also worked the previous Saturday, with Chris and McCall (is that right? I can't remember that far back) pitching in a lot of work. We test fit 3 different struts and even the E30 spindles and struts again, checking droop, bump travel, ride height, and strut lengths. What we learned after selveral hours of testing was - we really need E36 front struts that are 1" shorter than stock E36 lengths, so if anyone has any used E36 Bilstein SPORT front struts for sale cheap please PM me.

    Left: E36 ASTs and E30 stock struts at full droop. E36 AST struts are probably too short for an E30. Right: E36 AST at full bump

    Some of the inner fender structure was cut/clearanced to clear the 275mm tires at full lock up front. Yea, the wheel is not perfectly centered - to hell with that for now. We've got to get it going and we don't have time (or budget) to totally re-engineer the front suspension to center the wheel. We can make the flares look right and everything clear the 275mm tires.

    Still have a lot of work to do on the body, but its coming along. The main rust patch in the firewall is patched and we have two more rust patches to do on the floorpan. We should have the E30 diff with the E36 rear cover mocked up in the car Thursday night so we can figure out where the 2x2" tubing should go, then we'll get to welding that in place and fabbing the rear diff mount brackets. We lack one little clutch fitting to get the motor/trans back into the car for header mock-up and construction, too.

    More soon,
    Last edited by Fair!; 04-27-2010, 10:51 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    I have some updates to make later today, but I wanted to first share some video of an AST racer's E30 that I thought you guys might like:

    Bob Ederer's LS1 powered E30. 2300 pounds, 411 whp, AST equipped, race car

    Bob Ederer's LS1 e30 Racecar on the dyno - made 411 whp

    In-car video from Hallett - Comma GT Feature Race - April 25, 2010

    E30 LS1.... that's a neat idea!

    His car has the target weight we're shooting for, and similar wheel/tire/flare package we are going for, but it has a tick more power than we'll have in July at UTCC.

    Bob is an awesome cage maker in Oklahoma City, so if you have a BMW that needs some bars, he's the man.

    Good stuff!!!
    Last edited by Fair!; 04-27-2010, 11:43 AM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Update for April 15, 2010: The crew showed up last night and we got a lot of work done. The best part - everyone got to plasma!

    We had a special guest - JeffD from corner carvers forum was in town from Chicago and joined the team for a long night of destruction on the E30. Jeff had some great insight on E30s, as well as products from ZF/Sachs/Lemforder, for which he is a rep. He even had some suggestions for a clutch for my DSP E46. Thanks for the help, Jeff!

    Jeff was kind enough to stop by and lend a hand - and do the nastiest of the plasma cutting inside the car!

    Costas spent the night in obscurity, running the numbers for pilot bushing engagement with our "never before attempted" trans to motor adaptation. Once he had the setup of parts that had enough pilot bearing/input shaft support he bolted the pressure plate, clutch and bushing onto the block. McCall is getting us one little fitting we need today to hook up the hydraulic throwout bearing that came with the T5 we're using. No pictures of this work performed, as it would give too much away...

    Meanwhile the rest of the Thursday night crew attached the sunroof and trunk, cutting away a lot of dead weight. We had originally tried to emulate the pretty and proper Sunroof cassette/frame removal tips from some online sources, but that was, like, hard. Instead, we went straight for the plasma cutter. Everyone loves sparks!

    I spent some time with the cutoff wheel trying to do the sunroof structure removal "the right way". Screw that noise.

    Looks like about 35 pounds of crap associated with the sunroof.

    We'll skin the sunroof, flatten the lip/edge, trim it to fit the hole, and weld it in place this weekend.

    Derek and Chris gutting the trunk lid. Me at far right, holding a beer in one hand and heat gun in the other.

    Derek and Chris attacked the underside of the trunk lid, with plasma, heat gun, and putty knife. They got the bulk of the structure out, and the hinges, dropping another 7-8 pounds off the back end. The paint still looks OK and the trunk is still strong enough to support aero loads and such. Next up - the hood, where 50+ pounds awaits to be gutted away.

    More work this Saturday - the April work push has begun.
    Last edited by Fair!; 04-16-2010, 02:54 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Updates from April 8, 2010: We worked on a bunch of little stuff last Thursday. First off was a mock-up of the new LSD equipped E30 diff we scrounged for the car, but we wanted to put it in with an E36 rear diff cover for added strength.

    We got a dual eared E36 rear diff cover for almost nothing and cleaned it up. The plan was to slap this onto the E30 diff and make new mounts in the chassis and reinforce the trunk floor to hold the added torque from the V8. The single-ear E30 diff mount is prone to ripping a big hole in the trunk when high grip/hp is applied to the rear subframe. We're hoping to have lots of both, so....

    Well, the dual eared mount E36 rear diff cover doesn't quite just "bolt onto an E30 diff housing" as we've been told, of course. The reluctor wheel for the speedometer sticks out of the E30 case farther than in an E36 housing. This wheel hits the speed sensor and deeper dished E36 cover, so we'll be cutting those down to make the E36 rear cover fit.

    Our Kirk Racing 4-point roll bar is here, which we want to have to mount harnesses to and for just more on-track safety (for UTCC), so we removed the front and rear seats to prepare for the install. None of those seats are going back in, and here's why: The rear seat becomes useless when you add a 4-point roll bar, and it weighs close to 30 pounds. The front seats don't look like they'll be good enough for track use, and replacing them with aluminum seats (used or homemade) will lower the weight even further. The goal is to lose 60 pounds in the front/rear seats, which is what the 4-point bar weighs. We hope to offset the weight of the roll bar completely.

    We're also trying something different - just to see if it works. The Z3 rear 5-lug hubs stick out 1" wider than the 4-lug E30 hubs (see pic above, left), which is moving our wheel package outboard WAY too much. When we're dealing with a 15x10 and 18x11 wheel packages, this is critical. One of our team members (Chris) had an old E36 non-M rear 5-lug hub, rotor, and half-shaft, and we took some measurements - wow. Using this hub and rotor moves the hub/rotor face inboard .45", for a reduction in track width from the Z3 hubs of almost three inches overall. All of the other hub dimensions are the same, and it can work with the existing E30 rear hub bearings and E30 half-shafts (the E36 half-shafts are about 1" longer).

    We slapped in one of the E36 non-M rear hubs onto the E30 trailing arm and it looks good. REALLY good for our big honkin wheels. This not only moves the wheel face inboard, but moves the rotor inboard by the same amount, so we'd need to make custom brackets to fit the calipers to the trailing arms to the E36 non-M rear rotors (we mocked all of this up but didn't take pics). This is still a work in progress so... "don't try this at home". It might be more trouble than its worth, but we're going to try it. We need to reduce track width badly, and this might work.

    Speaking of reducing... we need to reduce the purchase price of the car within our GRM budget, so here's some stuff for sale! All of these parts came in this 1986 BMW 325e when we bought it, so we can reduce our purchase price by the amount each piece is sold for (up to the total price of the car). Once we have the car price down to $0, we're good.


    Front Seats, brackets and sliders - brand new! = $150 + shipping.

    Stock Rear E30 Seat, upper and lower, good condition = $75 + shipping.

    Stock E30 4-lug bottle cap wheels and tires = $85 + shipping. Re-painted gloss black this week. Murdered out! Tires are all the same size (195/60/14) and condition (crap) but from 3 different tire brands.

    I really don't want to ship this stuff, but if a buyer insists I will. Shipping charged would be straight UPS Ground costs, no discounts or "bundled prices". We have to account for every penny on all bought/sold transaction on this project, guys. Send me an email with your address and what part(s) you want to buy to fair (at) vorshlag (dot) com and I can get you UPS Ground shipping quotes on any of these items. And no, I won't break up the wheel sets, seats, etc.

    BMW E30 2.7L motor + 5-spd trans + DME = $300 (we will not ship this). We've had some interest from our CraigsList ad, and almost had it sold last Friday, but the guy cannot get it all back to Lubbock. Anyone making a trip from North Dallas to Lubbock sometime soon willing to help transport this drivetrain and help this guy out, please let me know! I'll get you in touch with him and yall can work out a price/logistics. Or if you want to buy it, its still for sale. Engine, accessories, trans, harness, DME = all for a package price.

    One more thing... I looked at a Vorshlag/AST customer's E30 M3 at a BMWCCA Club Race last weekend that had the "right parts" (according to the experts) for a proper E36 front suspension swap: E36 struts (4200s), Vorshlag E30 camber plates, '96-99 M3 LCAs, '95 M3 offset LCA bushings, and '95-99 M3 spindles/brakes. Beautiful car, and fast. Anyway, the wheel is still not centered enough for my liking, and it has +10° of caster - which is enough to make for some weird weight jacking at high steering angles (seen in auto-x), we think. We already know we cannot fit the E36 M3 12.5" diameter brakes inside out 15" wheels, so this E36 M3 spindle swap is not going to happen in our project. We are going to make custom tubular LCAs instead - its cheaper and it can fix the wheel centering issue "more". We'll lose some of the caster with our custom fixed top mount we're going to whittle out of some scrap steel.

    Next up: This week we start work on the sunroof delete (lowering weight, adding headroom, adding strength, and the old headliner was trashed). Team member DaveB has a method of re-using the old outer sunroof skin that I've never seen before, and it more than covers the hole in the roof while preserving the dual curves of the roof line. He did it to his E36 last week for $0, and it looks perfect. Never seen one look this clean and cost so little. We'll around play more with the rear hubs/brakes, and start tinkering with the custom front LCAs we know we're gonna need. The roll bar goes in after the sunroof delete is complete, too.

    Anyone that has a line on some used aluminum 1-piece fixed back racing seats, please send me a PM. We might have found one for $50, but it would be nice to have 2.

    Last edited by Fair!; 04-14-2010, 06:10 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Update for March 25, 2010: Better late than never? I'm a little tardy in updating the E30 project from work we did 2 weeks ago. We've had some thrashing on the E46 since then, including the first autocross in it (at the Texas National Tour, where it took 1-2). And we've had the busiest week of business ever here at Vorshlag, followed by the new busiest week on record.

    Anyway, the GRM Gang of 8 met on Thursday March 25th and we had 3 crews going at once (3 of us met again last Thursday, but sat around and watched an F1 race instead of working - doh!). One crew was busy cleaning - the T5 transmission was thoroughly cleaned (externally), and the rear calipers were cleaned as well. Amazing what you can do with a brass wire wheel brush and a parts cleaner. They calipers will be rebuilt with new seals, pads and rubber lines (and under the safety umbrella none of it will ding the budget - yay!) but the T5 will remain as-is. Don't wanna crack open that case, or risk screwing something up (bad karma). And yes, its a $100 T5. And we have another identical $100 T5 as a spare. That's not some crazy deal, just simple CraigsList searches, done locally. Its not a popular T5 version - its one everyone ignores. More about this not-so-special T5 transmission soon.

    We had another group that bolted the trans to the bellhousing and played with some other parts I can't discuss, but if I show any of that I'll spill all the beans - so it'll have to wait.

    We had another crew of team members removing the stock halfshafts, diff, and 4-lug hubs. That was a bit of a chore, but we had the tools and the know-how to get 'em off - and we did it clean. The rear wheel bearings went unscathed, thankfully. We'll be sliding in the 5-lug hubs (junkyard sourced from a Z3) soon enough, along with the Z3 rotors and rear calipers.

    We have a LSD equipped E30 diff in a very desirable (for our build) 2.79 rear ratio in hand, delivered all the way from Nebraska free of charge by a kind soul that was coming down to the Texas Tour two weekends ago. Saved us a bundle in shipping this 90 pound lump! Thanks again Christy. Not much to see with that yet - its still in a garbage bag, and its oily.

    The car is temporarily sitting on the wrong trailing arms and 5-lug hubs - these rear arms and hubs are straight out of a Z3, and widen the track by a whopping 3.5". With the hubs swapped into the proper E30 trailing arms we only gain about an inch of track width over stock, or so my crude measurements make me think (see rotor pics at the bottom of this post). We raised the rear ride height all the way up, thinking the little 15x7 bottlecaps wouldn't clear the fenders. It looks... hilarious. We just wanted to get it off the dang lift so we could prep the E36 M3 and E46 330 for upcoming track and autocross events they are being run at this Saturday and Sunday (we just don't have enough on our schedule).

    The E30's old M20B27 motor and Getrag 5-spd trans are being sold this Friday for $300, and that will take the purchase price for the E30 back to $200 in the budget. Once the front and rear seats are sold that should bring the sum down to nearly $0 - which is a common achievement among $200X GRM competitors.

    We've got a bit of reinforcement work to do on the stock E30 rear trailing arms, subframe, trunk floor/diff mount, and several bushings to whittle out of some scrap Nylon that Derek found, but that's going to have to wait until next time.


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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Some scattered ideas on the E30...

    Still looking at options for fixing the wheelbase issues. The '95 M3 offset LCA bushings we have in the E30 right helped move the wheel forward some, and so did the '96-99 M3 LCAs, but it still needs to push forward more. The proper solution seems to be to swap in 96-99 E36 M3 spindles as well, but I just tested our 15x10" wheels ($200/set on closeout - so cheap!) on my '97 M3's stock front brakes - no joy.

    The 15x10" wheels won't clear the E36 M3 front brakes (12.5" diameter). The inner barrel of the wheel hits the caliper badly, even with lots of spacer. So this is not gonna happen with the wheels we can afford to use on this $2010 project. Just for fun I slapped a 16x8" Camaro wheel on there. That's all the E36 M3 needs to clear these larger rotors/calipers, a 16" diameter wheel:

    So long story short - we aren't going to burn $70 in the budget to get a pair of used '96-99 E36 M3 spindles, and we'll stick with the 11.5" diameter E36 non-M brakes we have instead. As much as I'd like to have the M3's larger 12.5" diameter brakes (for UTCC) and a better fix to the wheelbase solution, the calipers will never clear our 15x10" steel wheels - and that's the only way we can pull off this much wheel for this little budget.

    There's no 16x10" or 17x10" wheel in this insane $200/set price range, of course, and 16" and 17" tire selection is even worse (all too narrow and/or too tall). The only tire that's gonna fit our little car well is going to be the 275/35/15 or 285/30/18, and we cannot afford the 18x10" wheels, either. So we'll make do with our 15x10" steelies for the GRM autocross and just have to modify the front Lower Control Arm, as we had planned. No big deal.

    Now for the last wheel test fit of the day: Some used 18x11" CCWs I just bought for the hell of it:

    They fit the E30 well - too bad we cannot afford the hit to the $2010 Challenge budget! But outside of the GRM Challenge itself, these wheels could be used on this car. There's a good 10mm of room to the strut, and the wheel only sticks about 2" outside the fenders (these E30 M3 fenders won't be used, but they have don't even have any extra flare width over the stock E30 non-M fenders), which is the same as our 15x10" wheels. We can make the flares clear these wheels, too.

    I've been playing with all sorts of wheel/tire combos this week:

    18x10" D-Force with 285/30/18 on BMW E46 330Ci, with M3 front fenders slapped on


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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Originally posted by TOOLEAN
    Terry, why even bother with setting up a passenger seat and all the equipment that goes with it? Seems unnecessary.

    Good Luck!! Nate.
    We have like 9 people on the team, so we'll have passengers aplenty for most autocross runs. Some track test days we attend regularly (member days, privcate test sessions, etc) allow passengers as well, and many of the team members are instructors for NASA and other HPDE groups, so that 2nd seat would get well used in the near future. At about 15 pounds and for roughly $40 in aluminum, it won't ding the weight or cost budget much to have that 2nd seat.

    Originally posted by kablammo

    -edit: ratio is problably not right for your application though.
    Yea, with the tire height, trans mission gearing, and rev limit of our V8, that rear end ratio is not ideal (3.73). Neither is the price. We need "pick-a-part" prices, hence, the junkyard crawl we have planned for tomorrow. :stickoutt

    Originally posted by lughed
    Can you take a side shot of them seats? From the front they look like they have plenty of bolstering
    Which? Here's the lovely eBay specials we have now, along with the aluminum seats we plan to copy.

    Left: UltraShield Rally Sport seats. Middle: eBay specials that came in our E30. Right: Kirkey Racing Intermediate Road Race seat

    We'll be copying either the aluminum UltraShield Rally Spot seats in McCall's '91 318is, or Costas' GT1 car's Kirkey Intermediate Road Race seats.

    Originally posted by Dirt32
    Terry sent you a pm, have a set of good calipers for you
    Sweet! I'll respond shortly...

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Mar 5, 2010: Wow, we haven't had an update since early February!? Believe it or not the GRM team has met every week and worked on the E30, and I burned the entire weekend last Saturday and Sunday, mocking up and building motor mounts and a transmission crossmember. The final parts are done and look great, if I say so myself. Of course I cannot show any of this...

    These pictures don't show much detail on purpose... and that's a borrowed trans.

    Last night we pulled the mockup drivetrain out, removed the borrowed trans, and started to tear down the engine for the last time. The modified oil pan was cleaned (yuck! it was like mud in there), the intake manifold was disassembled and cleaned, injector seals were checked and oiled, connecting rod and thrust bearing clearances were checked and looked great, and we started to button it all back up for the last time. Since we're not revealing the motor we're using just yet (be patient!), that's all I can say about that, so I will discuss some of the other mods we're working on.

    More on the 5-lug swap: We need the 5x120 mm 5-lug to be able to use GM pattern 15x10" steel wheels. The front E36 non-M spindle and brake parts we've added to the E30 are already documented here. The non-M E36 bits are never coveted by BMW folks, who usually chuck them in favor of larger E36 M3 spindles/hubs/brakes. So we were able to pickup several sets of spindles, rotors, calipers, and hubs for nothing. Of course our budget will take the usual hit of "fair market value", as found on a nationwide salvage yard website price list. Some GRM Challenge teams put $0 towards their budgets when they use free parts, but you're supposed to use Fair Market Value, and we will because its The Right Thing To Do.

    The rear brakes are still 4-lug stockers for the moment. This is holding up our 15x10 wheel/tire/flare mockups. We thought about just re-drilling the rear 4-lug E30 hubs for the 5-lug pattern. So last week one of the GRM Team members pulled the rear brakes apart and we did a quick visual check with an E36 front hub. There's not enough metal to properly support the larger bolt circle of the 5 x 120mm BMW pattern. The 4 x 100 mm circle is a good bit smaller. See the pictures below.

    So this weekend we're going to prowl the junkyards looking for the Z3 rear brakes and hubs we need, based on knowledge we learned on R3vlimited forums and this guy's excellent tech article on E30 5-lug swaps. We found one junkyard willing to sell the Z3 rear hubs for $25, so we'll swing by there if we strike out elsewhere.

    Seats: We've got a pair of eBay specials in the car now that "look pretty" but pretty much suck at supporting a driver in hard cornering. For auto-x and drag racing they might do the trick, but since we're gearing up to run the 2010 UTCC event at VIR, these seats have got to go. They are not cut out for road course used.

    To help reduce the cost of the $500 car, these seats will be sold. To avoid spending many hundreds per seat on race seat or seats, since seats are not considered a pressing safety item and DO count against our $2010 budget, we're going to MAKE OUR OWN SEATS. Yes, we're crazy... but we were inspired by watching this show:

    We've used aluminum seats in several of our other race cars, from UltraShields in McCall's '91 BMW 318is to Kirky Road Race seats in Costas GT1 car. They are simple, comfortable, strong, lightweight, and very easy to mount.

    So we'll make some cardboard patterns based on one of those aluminum seats, buy a sheet of aluminum, cut our patterns, do some bending and TIG welding, and try to build a seat or two for this car. Since the car is already stupid light, we'll likely make them stronger than many of the aluminum seats we see other racers using, so don't fret about safety. This way we minimize the budget hit for real race seats, get a better/more supportive seat(s), and get to be probably one of the only teams to have homemade seats at the GRM Challenge.

    More safety: Since we're going to (hopefully) be bombing down the straights at VIR at 150+ mph, we're going to step up the safety preparations significantly. We just bought a pair of G-Force Pro 6-point FIA cam lock harnesses for the E46 330 that I'm racing this year, and they are affordable at only $153.set. We'll get some for the E30 as well (and these are safety items that don't count towards the budget). We'll get another SPA 5 liter fire suppression system for the E30, the same as we used on the LS1 E36 Alpha car. This is money well spent, and also not counting against our budget, nor is it performance enhancing at all. I really dislike car-b-ques and crispy skin.

    Rearend: We're going to hit the junkyards this weekend and look for a cheap diff while we search for the Z3 rear brakes. Fingers crossed...

    More soon,
    Last edited by Faerus; 03-05-2010, 12:19 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    And now some new parts we've acquired for the project:

    Derek scored this "sweet" eBay steering wheel. The 1.5" smaller diameter will help for auto-x and track use

    Derek also offered up a used steel Camaro driveshaft, which we'll use pieces of to make our driveshaft. Seats we're test fitting team members into

    So why are we worrying about better seats, now? Aren't the eBay reclining seats good enough for auto-x, drag race, and the car show? Well, these seats are as comfortable as sitting on a piece of plywood, and aren't up to snuff for track use, so they're going to be sold. Wait... did I just say TRACK USE? Why would we worry about that on a GRM $2010 Challenge car.

    Because we're going to take the E30 to the 2010 GRM Ultimate Track Car Challenge (UTCC) in July.

    Assuming everything goes as planned, we can have the car completed in time, track worthy/safe, and maybe even sorted. We had planned on going to UTCC this year with team member Paul Costas' ungodly fast tube framed GT1 car (see below). He went to the UTCC in 2007 and was very fast, but plagued by a rushed build schedule. He wants a rematch at VIR's big course this year. So since we're towing to VIR, and have a 2 car trailer... why not take the $2010 GRM E30! It made sense to me, at least after a few beers.

    Costas' GT1 Camaro

    So yesterday I talked to the guys at GRM and they loved the idea. Since a $250,000 Daytona Prototype won last years UTCC, its getting a little beyond "grass roots". Maybe bringing a dose of reality in the form of a $2010 crap box will slightly realign UTCC with the magazine that sponsors it? And it'll be a damn good shake down for the October $2010 Challenge event. I mean, if the E30 survives 150+ mph straight away speeds and corners at VIR, then it should withstand 5 drag runs and a few minutes dorking around in the parking lot for the $2010 Challenge, right?

    We're going to throw down the gauntlet on the GRM forums and challenge more $2010 Challenge teams to drag their low-buck builds to the 2010 UTCC, and Per Schroeder has offered up a free beer and a cheeseburger to the fastest $2010 Challenge car at UTCC. A beer and a cheeseburger? I've done crazier things than this for less.

    So we're upping the attention on the E30 project to add more emphasis on road course safety and speed. We're going to add a Kirk Racing 4-point competition roll bar for sure (ordering 5 of these units on Monday for various Team members' cars, including my DSP E46 project and the E30), as well as a good FIA harness (G-Force Pro 6-point). Neither of these items will count against our budget, according to the folks at GRM - whew. But the seat will... so we have to sell the eBay seats in the car now on CraigsList for maximum $$$ to afford one racing seat we'll need. The Pate swap meet is coming up so we'll be trolling the aisles for a good deal on an aluminum Kirkey or UltraShield seat, or maybe even a composite road race seat from Sparco or Cobra? We can only dream.

    The car has to pass NASA tech inspection before it can run at UTCC, so we'll try to finish it sooner than originally planned so we can run it at a local NASA Texas Time Trial event, and get a full tech inspection and a log book issued before we drag it to VIR in July. This moves up the schedule and ups the ante considerably, but our $2010 budget isn't going to change. Can we do it? Can we make a safe, sorted track car for $2000 that isn't embarrassingly slow? We'll see. We'd be happy if we go to UTCC and beat the bottom 3rd of the field, but even those cars are going to be stupid fast and have at least $30-40K+ in their construction. Time will tell if we bit off more than we can chew...

    After a noted engine builder stopped by last weekend and checked out our motor, the horsepower plans have ratcheted up a bit. He knows these motors better than almost anyone on the planet, had some really good low-cost ideas, and we're going to follow his advice. We aren't sharing ANYTHING about the motor until its in the car and running. The oil pan we need (and have horse traded 3 levels deep to get!) is arriving this week, then we can finally do our mockups in the car with the actual oil pan and trans we're running for the Challenge event. We've already done drivetrain mock-ups with.... another trans.

    No more details - I've already over-shared, so I'll stop there. Back to to the shop to thrash on my DSP E46. We spent a couple grand yesterday buying parts for that car, and I need to put the mountain of parts I already have here now to get ready for what's inbound. Then hopefully I'm going target shooting with McCall (haven't done that in 3 years). Guns and cars - not a bad way to spend a Saturday!

    Stay tuned for more.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Feb 18, 2010: With last week's Thursday work night snowed out (we had over 12.5" of the white stuff - a 24 hour record for Dallas) and some missed work nights over the holidays, the team was getting itchy. We had 6 of the $2010 Team members here Thursday night to turn wrenches on the E30 again - it was bedlam! I'm behind on posting pics so here goes:

    Chris and Paul pressing in the '95 LCAB bushings. We might go back with poly or Nylon (we'd machine them to save $). The "composite" bushings (aka: wood shim!) had to go

    We had 2 different teams working on different things to stay busy, and in less than 2 hours we had the pair of '96 M3 LCAs on, new offset '95 M3 bushings (eBay) in the LCAB "lollipops" in, the E36 steering rack installed, with trial fits along the way. We also decided to up the scheduled "first test" date by 3 months, including some road course testing (more on that at the bottom).

    Costas, Dave and Derek thrashed on the LCA's and E36 steering rack

    The old E30 steering rack brackets were bent up pretty well. Once we finalize the up/down location we're going to beef up the lower mount with some steel. Hopefully this will then withstand the higher cornering loads of 275mm Hoosiers at high speed track events.

    The rack mounts were cleaned and straightened

    The E36 rack has about 1/2" gap to the factory E30 mounts. This is nice - it will allow us to shim the rack up/down to correct for bump steer

    The holes on the E36 rack lined up perfectly with the E30 brackets, and the end-to-end length was fairly close to the E30 rack. The E36 rack moves the power steering hose ports to the outside of the rack, away from the V8 motor we're adding. Its also a lot faster ratio rack than anything that came in an E30 - and was a freebie! A cool customer who had swapped in a Z3 rack into his E36 track car donated this well used (275K mile!) E36 325is rack to the cause. Don't let the cleanliness fool you - that's just my pressure washing and OCD detailing on what was a dirty old rack.

    The '96 LCAs on and the rack in place

    The wheel has indeed moved forward, but as expected after reading the great write-ups on these swaps on R3vlimited forums, this is far from perfect. The right fix probably does involve E36 M3 spindles, but we cannot and will not do that for this project car. Why? It will pound our budget, and doesn't fit the theme for this car - a fast car built with cheap parts that nobody wants.

    Going to E36 M3 spindles mean we'd need M3 rotors, calipers, and more. We're not going to even try to pull that one over. The two sets of E36 non-M spindles/rotors/brakes we've picked up were free because nobody wants them, and that's why we're going to use them. The non-M E36 brakes are still 1" larger than the E30 4-lug garbage, so its still an upgrade. The stock 24" tall tires on the car now just barely clear the inner unibody structure at full lock, which they didn't even come close to doing before. If the shorter (275mm) Hoosiers can work like this, we'll keep it as-is. Otherwise we'll modify or build a LCA to correct for the E36 spindles in the E30 chassis. We came up with a game plan if this proves necessary, but we're going to move onto the rear 5-lug swap next, for now.

    more below...
    Last edited by Fair!; 03-05-2010, 11:05 AM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Originally posted by CrazyCoder
    Any news?
    The '96 M3 Lower Control Arms showed up, thanks to a cool BimmerForums user, and they look great.

    They are actually going to help... it might not be enough different to completely fix the wheelbase problem, but it might be enough with the shorter 275/35/15 Hoosiers we are using.

    The plan is to put these on the car Thursday night and test it. If its not enough we'll make some LCAs...

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  • GotCone?
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    man those 5200's look familar

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Originally posted by WhiteLX
    Could you heat and bend the arm forward? I know there are guys that do this with the early steel I-beams for ford trucks to correct camber issues when raising or lowering (not to the later cast beams though). Not sure how that would effect the strength of the BMW arms since I have no idea what they are made of or the process in which they are made. You could box in the arm after bending to increase the strength.

    Probably an undesirable side effect would be a reduction in negative camber and a change in the camber gain since you would also be shortening the distance from the inner pivot to the outer ball joint.
    Its an idea we have seriously considered, but yea, it'll likely cost us some camber. We might cut/pie section the arms to bend them forward instead. One way or another we're going to make some LCAs work.

    Originally posted by Matt M.
    Fair, the LCA dims are not an unknown quantity. All RWD E30 and E36 LCAs have identical dimensions, with the exception of the 96-99 M3, where the outer ball joint moves ~10mm forward (which is how the 96+ M3 achieves the same outer LBJ position as the 95 M3 in spite of using centered vs offset bushings).

    Thanks, we'll try to round up some late E36 M3 arms to test. I'll try anything at this point...

    BF group had several alternatives to using the E36 5-lug spindles, including...
    Originally posted by garretvs
    E30 M3 front struts & spindles
    ... are worth about $800-1000 for cores nowadays. Find me usable stock E30 M3 spindles/struts for under say... $300/set and I'll buy every one, sight unseen.

    Even if we could magically find a free set of E30 M3 spindles/struts (ha!) they still suffer the same limitations as the E30 4-lug spindles: there are no affordable choices for coilovers. All you can do is use inserts -or- cut off the factory strut tubes and build your own shocks from scratch (which is how AST makes 4200s and all 5000 models. Ever priced shipping spindles to and from Holland?)

    We looked into making/modifying/swapping just the E36 5-lug hubs onto the E30 spindles, too, but we lose both the cheap/available/better E36 strut choices as well as the step up to bigger E36 front brakes. We have had multiple free sets of E36 non-M spindles + LCAs + full front brakes donated. Nobody puts much value in this stuff, and its free for the taking if you know where to look. Well this stuff is still a HUGE improvement over the stock E30 non-M front brakes and suspension!

    Not a big deal on an auto-x/drag car to get the bigger E36 brakes, but it matters for track use. Imagine a 350 whp V8 powered E30 with 275mm Hoosiers - Do you want to be wheeling this thing around a track with stock 4-lug E30 brakes?? I sure don't. At least with 11.5" front discs we might be able to make a few laps without the brake pads catching fire.

    Again, this weird E36 5-lug swap is bigger than our $2010 GRM project - its something a LOT of E30 4-lug folks have wanted to do, and something I wanted to try for years, but nobody has just documented the problems or solutions very well. We're we're going to make it work with correct wheelbase/caster, one way or another, and show it here.

    Last edited by Fair!; 02-05-2010, 07:28 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Feb 5, 2010: We had a group of 4 of us working on the GRM $2010 E30 last night, including new team member Derek! He stopped by the shop yesterday to sell us some engine parts needed for the V8 swap, fell in love with the little E30, and now he's on board. This project seems to be a magnet for local car guys!

    The main item on the night's agenda was to finish our E36 front suspension/brake/5-lug swap. We spent the entire evening mocking up, measuring and installing control arms and spindles to try to fix the "altered wheelbase" issue that accompanied our E36 front suspension swap onto the E30 chassis. We were told to try early E36 spindles with late LCAs, so we tried that - and a hullva lot more permutations.

    We didn't find the magic combination that allows an E36 spindle + strut to be used on the E30 chassis - because we feel that there is no magic bullet. The "Easy 5-lug and E36 strut swap!" theory is a myth. Check out these pics and I'll explain further.

    In the pictures above you an see the E36 spindle, brakes, and E36 coilover strut (not our final strut solution for the $2010 budget - just an interim AST coilover we had laying around until we found a cheaper solution!) installed onto the E30 - and the massive alteration in wheelbase. This tiny stock 205/60/15 tire and stock 15x7 E36 "bottlecap" wheel tire is rubbing like crazy at the back of the wheel arch and inner sheetmetal when turned, at this lowered ride height. Of course we had the maximum offset on the rear LCA bushings... we ran out of room there long ago.

    This tire rub issue is because the front wheel has been moved rearward by over an inch, and is interfering with the fender opening and even the inner sheetmetal and unibody. It will have changed the caster in a bad way as well. Well, damn that...

    Here you can see the various "non-M" Lower Control Arms (LCA) available on the E30, E36 and E46 chassis. We've tested the E30 M3 and E36 M3 LCAs and they all look very similar, but will round up examples of these M versions (all on cars in the parking lot including Matt's '95 M3, my '97 M3 and an E30 M3 we can borrow). All of the E30 and E36 LCAs we measured were IDENTICAL. To the mm. The "A" distance was the same on all of the E30 and E36 arms we tested, with only the E46 arm having a different "B" number (1" longer). The hypotenuse (and any fore-aft offset of the spindle mount) was also the exact same between all E30 and E36 LCAs we tested too - so the differing part numbers between early and late E36 LCAs seemed to be only cosmetic in nature.

    We still installed and test fit wheels with all of these LCAs, "just in case" and there was no difference in the wheelbase issue, of course. The E46 LCA was indeed longer, but this only caused a huge amount of negative camber, and didn't affect the caster/wheelbase issue at all.

    What's the solution? How can you use E36 suspension parts in an E30 and keep the wheel centered in the wheel opening? Well I'm fairly certain there's not going to be a solution that uses factory spindles and control arms. That parts-bin solution seems to be a total myth.

    If you look closely at where the LCA mounts to the spindle on an E36 and E30, there lies the problem. On the E30, where the spindle and strut tube are one piece (a retarded and very limiting design) there's no room to get to the top of the LCA ball joint mounting nut... so this mounting hole its moved rearward on the spindle by about an inch compared to the E36. On the E36, the strut un-bolts from the spindle, so since yoiu can gain access to it they have moved the lower mounting hole on the spindle to almost right under the strut axis itself, and when this spindle is used on an E30 its going to pull the wheel backwards about an inch. Bad.

    Notice the offset from the strut axis to the spindle mount on the E30. On an E36 this is very different

    We're going to try to make or modify one of the many stock steel Lower Control Arms to allow the E36 spindle and brakes fit. Why? Well we REALLY need the 5-lug pattern from the E36 bits, to be able to use the cheap GM 5-lug pattern circle track wheels we scored (new 15x10's for $50 each don't exist for 4-lug BMW pattern), which will give us a grip advantage with some used 275/35/15 Hoosiers. Also, the cheap-to-free used E36 spindles and brakes are a big upgrade over the E30 bits (11.5" diameter E36 brake rotor vs 10.5" from the E30). Lastly, there are TONS of low cost, used E36 struts out there, but decent/used/cheap E30 strut inserts are few and far between.

    We'll include these pictures and more detail on our final solution later, in a full blown tech article. There's got to be an affordable way to run E36 suspension on an E30, and by damn, we're going to find it.

    Stay tuned...
    Last edited by Fair!; 03-05-2010, 10:57 AM.

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  • John in Houston
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Originally posted by GotCone? View Post
    LS12 in the trunk

    ... for when an LS6 just isn't enough

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